Thunder Island

James Howard Kunstler, Author
James Howard Kunstler, Author Bantam Books $7.95 (266p) ISBN 978-0-553-34514-8
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
It is the summer of 1967, and Andy Newmark, a 17-year-old New Yorker, takes a maintenance job at a Thunder (read Fire) Island resort. The reader is carried along by Andy's sense of exploration as he works, makes friends, surfs, and experiments with drugs, alcohol and sex. All the while, the fear of not being accepted to college and so being drafted into Vietnam hovers over him. Gradually overcoming personal conflictshis parents' divorce, his fear of failureand the social ills he encountersthe war, the prejudice he experiences as a Jew at a Catholic club, the decadence of Thunder Islandby summer's end, Andy feels comfortable with himself and the dimensions of the adult world he is entering. Andy and his friends are likable, even if they seem as deeply characterized as the people in the rock songs that play everywhere on Thunder Island. And, like many novels of initiation, the adults are portrayed as ridiculous stuffed-shirts. Overall, though hackneyed expressions and trite situations diminish the effect of its simple story of innocence and discovery, this novel has charm. Steeped in the news and social events of the time as they appeared to young adults then, Thunder Island offers a sentimental, nostalgic version of adolescence in the late '60s and will be a welcome read on the beach in the late '80s. Kunstler wrote The Halloween Ball. (June)
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